We’re moving further and further into the 21st century, and the workforce is continually reflecting the dramatic demographic changes that began many years ago. Women continue to join the workforce and are now entering into careers that were once only for men. It is in fact predicted that women will outnumber men in the workforce by 2020. Go team!
This is due to a number of factors, such as increasing career aspirations, educational systems and the development of workplace support schemes such as child care and flex time. But, whats it like to be a women or a person of colour in today’s workplace? What are the benefits and challenges of having a culturally diverse workplace? What are some of the strategies that can be used to foster this?
The answer, research has shown, to this question is that women and people of colour have vastly different experiences in the workplace than that of white men.
Ever heard of the glass ceiling concept? It describes a barrier so subtle that it is transparent, yet so strong that it prevents women and minorities form moving up in the management hierarchy. Without kidding around, this is an important issue. It’s an issue that sees women getting paid less than men, still, in this 21st century. In fact, in the US a women earns 77 cents to the mans $1. WHY!? However, we are seeing progress as Obama signed a bill in 2009 making it easier for women to sue over pay inequity.
A culturally diverse workplace sees a variety of issues being thrown up, such as discrimination and stereotyping, colour discrimination being on the rise and the ‘Mummy track’ who are women employees who were assumed that they want flexible working hours and family support in exchange for fewer opportunities.
However, there are ways to manage this.
Thinking about it as a celebration of diversity in organisational and cultural life.
Identifying a number of spheres of activity that must be dealt with when living in a culturally diverse nation.
Have an HR system that works.
Managers and employees must see it as a challenge and an opportunity. And also need to be knowledgable about the needs and contributions of diverse organisational members.
Educate your workforce to eliminate discrimination, have a bias free HR system, and work options that ease the conflict between job and family.
AGAIN IT’S HUMAN RESOURCES AND LEADERSHIP!!
It’s about leading from the top and ensuring your team is equipped with the right knowledge and experience to manage and appreciate the benefits of a culturally diverse workforce.
Have an HR team that has options for parents, but never assumes it’s what they want. Some mothers have different expectations and needs than others. Be prepared and see it as an opportunity is probably what I take away from this the most, we are in the 21st century, times have changes and the mindset of organisations needs to change with it. Base your promotions on performance and leadership qualities, not on who isn’t planning on having kids, or who is male, or who is white. It’s old school and it’s wrong. Having a diverse environment is so important and I see it as such an opportunity to make an unbelievable culture and a positive working environment for all.